Why does my homeowners insurance company ask about my dog?

There are dog people, and cat people, and animal lovers, and non-animal lovers. I am a dog person. I do love all animals however dogs are my thing. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always had a dog. My family tried the cat thing but our orange tabby cat Pumpkin had a mind of his own and decided he hated us and went to live with our neighbor. Come to find out our elderly neighbor had been feeding him table scraps, so excuse us, Pumpkin for giving you kibble. (I’m not upset about it still or anything)

T&D Anyways, I’m a dog person. Currently I have five of them, yes five. Before I met my husband, Mike, I had gotten two Bullnese puppies. For those of you who do not know what that is I’ll tell you. It is a mix of a French Bulldog and a Pekinese. Their names are Tank and Drama and they are awesome! Then a few short years later I met my husband who is also a dog person. When we met he had three dogs! Two Pocket Pit Bulls, Bella and Meatball (Meaty for short) and a French Mastiff Cavali, who were all girls. bella and meaty Luckily mine were boys so we didn’t have that territorial alpha dog situation – well kinda. However, the Mastiff was the Mama and all of the doggies didn’t mess with Mama! See she was HUUUGGEE!

four doggies Sadly we lost our beloved Cavali as she was 9 years old, which is really old for the French Mastiff breed. Man, what a heartbreak that is! I only knew her for a little portion of her life but you become attached. And then there were four. Remember I told you I had five dogs?

One chilly November evening Mike and I had an appointment to go check out a new house. This particular house was right by his job and he fought me on going to this appointment because he didn’t want to be THAT close to his work. Me wanting to keep the appointment to at least check it out convinced him to go. As we approached the house we noticed that the tenant is still in the process of moving out, NBD (No Big Deal). However we were told by the owner that they hadn’t been to the house in a few weeks to finish moving out. As we walked in the house was covered in filth and we instantly thought “Let’s get the heck out of here!” Mike was right, I should have cancelled!” I kept thinking to myself as we both exchanged those glances of the I told you so smirks. Now we were in the thick of it and had to go through with this appointment. We walked all through the house pretending we were interested and were so grossed out that all we wanted to do was leave. Ok, I understand they were moving but this was different.

This house was laid out where the garage was towards the back of the house by the backyard. We had peaked out into the yard and saw more filth and piles of garbage, gross. As we were just about to wrap up and leave something inside me made me think about the garage. I thought, “Oh let’s just check out the garage, ya know just to be polite.” So I walked to the back of the house and outside through the filthy yard and up to the garage. My husband followed and I got to the door on the side of the garage and opened it.

Out sprinted this tiny little alien! Mind you it was dark and I got my phone out to turn my light on. What I saw upset me more than the filthy house we had just walked through. A tiny Chihuahua who looked like a furry skeleton was jumping at my feet. My first instinct was to pick it up, Val what are you thinking! This dog could have rabies, or some other sort of illness! I honestly forgot all of those things my mother taught me because the state of this little animal was so disturbing. I took off my jacket and wrapped the little dog into it and began to inspect her. I didn’t see any signs of disease other than extreme malnutrition. Mike checked out the garage and he saw no food or water, just empty bowls and stool everywhere. This poor little thing had been left to die, in the cold of November. She maybe had a few days left, which is sad but the truth. While I held her in my jacket we walked around the house looking for food or anything she could eat but there was nothing. My husband and I could not and would not leave her there. The owner of this house had no idea that the tenants had a dog. He was reluctant for us to take the dog because of the worry of a lawsuit but clearly this dog was unwanted. We were able to get the phone number of the tenant and as expected they didn’t want her. So we again have five dogs. Our first initial thought was to find her a good home because we already had the four, but as dog people we feel in love and couldn’t let her go. Not to mention our son was super attached by day 1. IMG_2442

Here she is on night one, and then exactly one week later. Her name is Little Bee and we’ve had her for about seven months and she is already a healthy and feisty little Chihuahua. Our vet told us she was about 8 months when we found her and extremely malnourished. Oh and she doesn’t have rabies or any other disease, Thank God! We have finally gotten her fat enough for her to be spayed and she gets along great with her brothers Tank and Drama. We haven’t yet introduced her to the bigger girls. She is a bundle of energy and hardly never settles down. littles nappingShe still has major food issues, but her anxieties are starting to fade away. One lazy Sunday I had the three little ones with me watching TV, and it happened. She crawled onto my lap and onto my chest and laid down to nap.  I couldn’t believe it. Seeing the healing process for her has been so rewarding, because getting her acclimated was not easy!

So, what does this story have to do with insurance? Well I’ll tell ya! Just like in our own lives dogs play a huge roll in homeowners insurance. In fact they play a huge roll, so huge as in they may or may not deny coverage. Have you ever called in for a quote and been asked if you have any pets? Why would this matter?

It matters because Insurance Carriers may not insure you if you have a dog on their excluded dog breed list. Yes, there is such a thing. Not all carriers are the same too. Some will insure your home and provide you liability but they will exclude your dog(s) meaning they will not provide coverage for a loss caused by your dog. Other insurance companies will straight up deny coverage. For instance, Pit Bulls are on that list.

Remember I have two! For me, finding a homeowners company is a bit more challenging and ultimately more expensive because I have two dogs that are at the top of the excluded list. The policy will be more expensive for me because I am no longer eligible in their preferred products. You see insurance companies offer homeowners products (or policies) that are either for preferred markets, or non-standard markets. Just like for auto policies, a preferred policy if you are a good driver and non-standard policy if you aren’t such a good driver. Companies can offer just one type or they could offer both. We have a carrier that offers both preferred and non-standard and in the non-standard all animals are automatically excluded. The non-standard policies are more expensive because of the higher exposure to risk.

Let’s take a look at the most common breeds that are on the excluded lists:

  • Pitt Bull Terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Presa Canarios
  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Akitas

Some carriers may have more breeds or less breeds on that list, so you’ll have to check with your specific company if you aren’t sure. If you have one of these dogs I am not here to debate how good, sweet, lazy or calm your dog is. I get it, I have two and I do love them, they are part of my family. I will just be spending more money on homeowners insurance.

Statistically insurance carriers have spent hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars on dog related claims. So the stats are unfortunately against them. According to an article in Psychology Today, In 2013, dog bite related claims accounted for more than 1/3 of all homeowners liability claims totaling to about $490 million. They continued to state that the average payout was $30k and that was four years ago! If you’d like to read the whole article click here.

Any kind of attack can happen at any time. You cannot plan it. The attack could also be towards another dog not just a person. If your neighbor is walking by with their dog and your dog gets loose and a fight breaks out you are liable and could be sued for any injuries your dog may have given to the other dog. Or at the dog park, suddenly the fur kids aren’t getting a long and then boom, fight, then boom, lawsuit. This could happen with any breed of dog, even those not on the excluded dog list.

val's pack If you are thinking about getting a puppy in one of those breeds and you already have homeowners insurance, the company may end up non-renewing your policy. Occasionally the company will do an inspection upon your renewals and they will notate if you have a dog on the excluded list. It’s always best to be smart and contact your agent to discuss options if you want to get a dog on that list.

Mike and I continue to work daily on training and taking care of our pack. little bee Again, we are dog people. We will probably always have dogs. They bring such joy to you and become part of your family. They are our fur kids. Even if you aren’t a dog person you cannot deny that animals are helpless and shouldn’t be dumped in an abandoned garage. They don’t deserve that, Little Bee didn’t deserve it. If you have an animal that you cannot take care of please take it to the SPCA, or call the animal shelters or foster homes in your area. I knew there was a reason I fought to keep that home appointment. A life was saved, and I am thankful for that. My wallet isn’t that happy but it’s worth it! Besides, who doesn’t love this face!

 

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American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc

A: 201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)389-1820

E: info@amerdiv.com W: www.amerdiv.com

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One thought on “Why does my homeowners insurance company ask about my dog?

  1. I had a rescue yellow lab I named him Astro yes just like the Jetsons and yes my name is George he was shot in the head neutered broken leg and on death row he was the absolute best friend I could ever have for a pet I think he rescued me . Some one said I did not have a good rabbit dog (say this in a Cajun accent) I said I did too have a good rabbit dog you have to put a piece of tape over one nostril or he will chase two rabbit one time . Now if you ever seen a rabbit run you can just a magen how chasin two rabbit at one time would look like i eyeeee

    Like

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